Sunday Drive: Infiniti goes back to its roots with the new QX55 crossover
Almost 20 years ago, the INFINITI brand brought forth the FX SUV. It quickly became a sensation in the automotive world, not only for its great looks, but also because it was very powerful and what could be called the first-ever SUV coupe.
The FX was really how what we now know as a crossover came about, as it was one of the first SUVs to be built on the platform from a sedan — hence, crossover. However, the FX just happened to “cross over” from the popular Nissan 350Z and INFINITI G35 coupe, gaining some sports car DNA right from the get-go.
Now, for 2022, INFINITI has an all-new SUV coupe it has dubbed the QX55, a vehicle that goes back to INFINITI’s roots and what once worked very well for the company.
“We set the stage nearly 20 years ago with the FX, and the all-new INFINITI QX55 brings us back, close to the soul of our brand — and it propels us forward,” INFINITI Chairman Peyman Kargar said at the online launch of the QX55 last fall. “The inspired QX55 is an important step in our journey.”
For us, after a weeklong test drive, we were convinced that the QX55 is the best-looking INFINITI SUV we have driven to date. The new swooping roof line injected an element of style that had been missing from the brand as of late.
It looked great in our driveway and even better out on the road, and it would make a great addition for any luxury SUV buyer. The designers have done a fantastic job making the QX55 appealing not only to those of our somewhat advanced age but also to younger drivers looking to get into the luxury SUV market. It starts at just over $46,000.
The original FX came equipped with a 3.6-liter V-6 motor that cranked out 280 horsepower. This was outstanding at the time, but its combined gas mileage came in right around 19 mpg. This new version of the old classic is equipped with a 2.0-liter I-4 turbocharged engine making 268 horsepower and 280 foot-pounds of torque.
In the QX55, we logged just over 500 miles, which included a trip from Springville to Ogden and back along with a lot of everyday driving around Utah Valley. We came in at a very impressive 26 mpg. This was just over the EPA estimate of 25, and we considered it great for the size of the SUV combined with its smaller engine.
With the new QX55, the I-4 engine is connected to the all-wheel drive system via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), as are most of INFINITI’s models. It is controlled with a shift-by-wire system that simulates real shift points, and it worked very well. It is not the same as driving a standard transmission, but with an SUV set for different driving modes, it acted well.
We have become bigger fans of these types of transmissions over the years as they have become better and better. They usually increase gas milage dramatically. At one time, they tended to have quite a roar under heavy acceleration and sometimes took longer to really get up to speed. The QX55 had a much more natural feeling and would set us back into our seats when we really got on the accelerator.
INFINITI has chosen to add its advanced ProPILOT Assist program to all versions of the QX55. This adds adaptive cruise control with stop and go along with the ability to center the SUV inside the travel lanes, giving driving in rush hour traffic a new meaning.
During our trip up to Ogden, this system was invaluable, keeping the speed in check and the vehicle in the proper place. It made a long trip like this a breeze and much more enjoyable for the driver and safer for all involved.
The QX55’s interior is really where the designers have excelled in adding all types of luxury and style. It has three different color choices for the seats: Graphite, Stone/Graphite and the stunning Monaco Red/Graphite. Our test ride came clad in the Monaco Red/Graphite, which was indeed stunning and a great compliment to the exterior Slate Gray color.
The seats were also designed with what INFINITI calls “zero gravity” to help reduce pressure to the hips and backs of the front occupants, thus reducing driving fatigue. We have found these types of seats to be some of the best in the business, and on longer trips we have noticed that we have arrived feeling more refreshed.
During our week with the luxury INFINITI, we also had a competitor’s luxury SUV, and we found ourselves enjoying the zero gravity seats much more than the other SUV’s seats. With the competitor priced almost $10,000 more, we would have chosen the INFINITI simply because of the seats.
This new INFINITI comes with a two-screen setup for the infotainment system and other controls such as climate and navigation. We liked the setup, as we could always keep the navigation open while still having instant access to the media we were listening to.
The QX55 is also the first INFINITI to feature wireless Apple CarPlay, another feature that we love. Combined with a wireless charging station, it is invaluable.
The QX55 is meant to launch a new era with the brand and its presence in the luxury SUV market. After a week of driving, we have to say job well done as the INFINITI QX55 had won us over.
Base price: $46,000
Price as driven: $60,045